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REVEALED: Why Tel Aviv Heat missed Euro cut

REACTION: Axed from the controversial Mzansi Challenge on political grounds, Tel Aviv Heat came within a whisker of facing South African teams in Europe.

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@rugby365com can reveal that Georgian outfit Black Lion – who along with the Currie Cup champion Cheetahs received invites to take part in the 2023-2024 Challenge Cup – edged the Israeli outfit by a hairbreadth.

The two teams – Cheetahs and Black Lion – were offered invitations to participate following a detailed and competitive tender process by the Challenge Cup organisers.

EPCR said in a statement it received interest from clubs across Europe and beyond – including an impressive application from Tel Aviv Heat, Israel’s first professional club.

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The Heat has been performing strongly in the Rugby Europe Super Cup – losing to Lion in the Final.

EPCR, in a letter to the Heat, said that the Israeli team only lost out because in the organisers’ opinion, they were not convinced the Heat had the depth to sustain a full campaign.

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The Georgian team managed to beat their Israeli rivals twice in the first season of the Super Cup – 33–10 and 52-28.

However, in Season Two the Heat drew 25-all with the Lion in Georgia and then beat them 24-18 in Israel.

In the Final, Lion triumphed 29-17 in a spiteful encounter.

Coming so close to qualifying for a place in Tier Two of Europe’s leading tournaments, is scant consolation for a team that was denied participation in South Africa’s Mzansi League in a manner that was heavily criticised by World Rugby.

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